Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Requiem For A True Master

"It really meant a lot to him to hear from people from over the years about how he helped them become a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, what he gave them. He really enjoyed that." - Gail Gygax.

I started reading when I was at the tender age of 5 years old. I could not ever forget my first book, The Raccoon in the Forest. It was a pop-up book, while I totally forgot the plot, I can still feel the cardboard pop-ups in each page, giving me a three dimensional view of the story. From that point on, whenever I read, I always put myself in 3-D mode, the better to be IN the story and not just read the story.

In the later years, I became a mystery buff. This was during the elementary years and first two years in high school. I've finished all the Sherlock Holmes stories then, even have the copy "The Six-Percent Solution" ( hard to find book, which was not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but it put things into "realistic perspective" ). I also have the Hardy Boys series to sink my teeth into, as well as different one shot detective stories by certain authors (also the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew crossovers, Tom Swift and the Bobsey Twins, but I digress). On that note, I never did read Agatha Christie, seeing that it would be disloyal to my favorite author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Don't ask me why, it just is.

Then, on a fateful summer evening, with nothing to do and just laying around our Lola's house in Roxas, I stumbled upon a book that changed my life forever. The Saga of the Old City by Gary Gygax. It's about a beggar boy named Gord the Gutless, and his transformation from slum dweller to thief and rogue and then finally a hero. I finished the story in one sitting, and in that exact moment, I was introduced into the Fantasy Genre.

And I hungered for more. By the end of high school, I've already read the great fantasy classics, from J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis Narnia and T.H White's The Once and Future King. I've devoured Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk. In college, I discovered David Eddings' the Mallorean and the Belgariad, Terry Goodkind's The Sword of Truth and Raymond Feist's Midkemia series. And now, I wouldn't have enjoyed Terry Prachett's wit and humor in the Discworld series (which keeps me sane) and George R.R. Martin's epic saga in The Song of Ice and Fire (which keeps me realistically grounded).

But I couldn't forget that first book in that fateful summer. That book that defined me by what I am today. The Saga of the Old City, written by Gary Gygax. And that man is dead, today at the age of 69. Most people would attribute Gary Gygax to, well, one of the foremost godfathers of geekdom. He was the driving force for Role Playing Games, using only a pen, papers and a handful of dice. That concept grew over the years, and these games couldn't come into fruition without his influence. We see his mark on them in almost every game, from the computer game heavyweights like Neverwinter Nights and Final Fantasy, MMORPG's like Ragnarok, Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, to also partly the TCG and CCG community (Trading/Collectible Card Games, along Richard Garfield, the Father of TCG's and CCG's).

Most people would remember him as guy who introduced the world to an alternative of playing games and having fun. Who introduced to us the terms "D20", "critical fumble" and "saving throws". Who declared to us why there should be a mithril dragon on the first level of a dungeon, and why every corner there is a death trap waiting. To me though, I remember him as the guy who set me into a path of otherworldly stories and imagination. To that man who is now with us in spirit, I say kudos, and while you were not my hero (because you created them), you were, first and foremost, my guide. Fare thee well.

"I have traveled a thousand worlds, each stranger than the next. I have met noble heroes, and vicious enemies. I have stood my ground against the Dark Queen with Raistlin and Caramon, and rode in a bronze dragon with Huma in the War of the Lance. I have tested blades with Drizz't Do'Urden, and fought several demons with Elminster. I have fought back to back with Aragorn against the Uruk Hai, and I have weilded the Sword of Truth. I have seen the splendor of Greyhawk, and have shared a quiet cigar with Sgt. Colon and Cpl. Nobby. I have escaped death several times from dungeons, and tried my strength with the giants and ogres. My strength is the capability of imagination, and with it my powers are infinite."

'Nuff said.

" I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else" - Gary Gygax

State of Mind: Numbing Grief
Song of the Day: 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky
Book of the Week: Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Want/Need: Quiet Contemplation


Anonymous Junelle said...

you have indeed a lot of things to share :) you write long posts :P

8:29 AM, March 06, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said, my beloved hamster. i must say i haven't read The Saga of the Old City and i'm not familiar with Sgt Colon or Cpl Nobby...hmm, must do more research...

8:40 PM, March 08, 2008  
Anonymous acey said...

so sorry to hear about 1 of your heroes, big h... =(

10:20 PM, March 11, 2008  
Anonymous zands said...

To me and to many gamers, Gary Gygax was The One Who Started It All. To the rest of the world...he's just be another guy who passed on to the other side.

If one would seriously try to take the fantasy genre apart, bit by bit, one would note that there would have been no fantasy genre at all without Tolkien.

And his work would never have spilled over popular culture without Gygax.

Most everything--if not everything at all--in the genre owes its existence to Gary Gygax and his creation, Dungeons and Dragons.

Name a game. Any game. Priston Tales? World of Warcraft? Magic the Gathering? ANY GAME inspired of the fantasy genre.

None of them would have been there without Gygax.

And now he is gone.

And the world just went on, without him.

That is what truly makes me sad.

10:56 AM, April 22, 2008  

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